As I was reviewing my BlissDom recap post from last year, I realize that it captured how I felt at the moment I returned. When you come back from a conference, you’re usually happy and buzzing and trying to decide which pictures to show to indicate what a fabulous time you had.
And usually you do have a fabulous time. But not every single second of every single day. What I typically show is a filtered view of the conference. The happy stuff. Because, after all, nobody sits around saying hey, I’m feeling kinda lonely here at this conference so I think I’m going to totally capture this and instagram it.
The truth of the matter is that last year was less than a blissful experience for me (despite my post to the contrary). But in retrospect, I know why. I had a couple of strikes against me:
- I was going by myself. No locals or besties or anybody that I could use as my wingwomen. There were plenty of people that I knew but nobody I could fall back on if needed.
- I was sharing a room with three other women. While my roomies last year were super awesome, I only knew one of them before the conference. And I’m not really keen on sharing rooms in the first place, let alone sharing a bed. So it was a bit, um, awkward.
- I was a Community Leader. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved being a Community Leader but I pressured myself to feel “on” all the time to make sure everyone else felt welcome and relaxed. I think I needed a community leader for the community leaders to do the same for me.
- I honestly didn’t know that many people. I’ve been traveling to conferences for years and I falsely assumed that I would probably know most people there. Apparently, there are a lot of people in the world and in the blogosphere that I just don’t know. While it was great to get to know new people, I often felt a bit lost.
- Aaaaand, I drank too much. Yes, it’s a conference. Yes, we often let loose. But not enough food + too much wine = a very bad outcome.
So, with all of that, I didn’t think I’d be making it back to BlissDom this year. And I was okay with it. I enjoyed myself last year. I really really liked it. I just didn’t love it.
But I went back anyway.
This year, I’m working for Johnson & Johnson, a third year sponsor of the conference. They invited me to attend and work in the suite and generally mix and mingle with all of the fabulous bloggers that were sure to be in attendance.
And I’m so glad I did. It was a completely different experience this year. Here’s why.
I had a purpose.
Even if I didn’t have a wingwoman, I was there for work. If I wasn’t checking out conference events, I was in the suite. I had a place to go and I had a purpose (P.S. Thank you to all you bloggers that let me rope you into a video interview. I can’t wait to see the footage!).
I had some space.
Because I was there for work, I had my own hotel room, a luxury few of us in the blogging world can typically afford. For me, it was nice to know that I could go back to my little slice of solitude at the end of every night and just have some of my much needed introvert time.
I was on a diet.
Actually, I still am on a diet. Next week, I’m doing my one month check-in for the Shaklee 180 program. I dutifully brought and consumed my shakes and bars. I exercised. I counted calories. I ate sensible meals. Well, until my last night there. And then I ate and drank and danced myself silly (literally). The drinking part was okay this year because my belly was happily full of steak and lobster without a care in the world about calories. I mean, you have to live a little, right?
I made real connections.
This is ultimately what we all want. We want real connections with the speakers and the brands and the bloggers. And I found them all. I didn’t rush from here to there to maximize my experience. I simply went into a suite (like Johnson & Johnson or One2One Network or the National Sleep Foundation or the Strong Moms Empower) and sat and talked. Bloggers streamed in and out and I really connected with them and with many of the reps that were there. Nobody was trying to sell me anything. We were simply making connections.
I wore comfortable shoes.
I packed all my best shoes… for looking good. I’m a professional, after all. I need professional shoes. I need height. My feet can suffer. But thank GOD I brought flats. I finally embraced my vertical challenge in the name of comfortable shoes.
I was picky about my sessions.
I had limited time for sessions and decided only to attend if I was truly interested and it felt very relevant to me right now. I only attended three sessions, but hands down, my favorite was from Shelly Kramer. When I grow up, I want to be her.
Overall, the vibe was very different this year.
It felt like a lot less people even though I’m told it was quite a bit more. Maybe it was the location (I liked the Gaylord Hotel in Dallas much better than the hotel in Nashville).
It felt much more relaxed, which I’m told was intentional.
With all of that said, I can tell you that I’ve read posts exactly to the contrary of everything I said. I’ve read that people felt shunned, that sponsors didn’t care, that the sessions were too short, the breaks were too long, etc., etc., etc. Oh, and yes, there were the requisite mean girls, apparently wearing coral pants.
I’m happy to say that in all my years of conference attendance, I’ve never met a mean girl. Maybe it’s my subconscious instinct to avoid people like that. But overall, what I’ve found is that a conference is what you make it. And this year, I made BlissDom my happy place.